Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-4119
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4127
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This study investigates the role interactional competence plays in the performance of political roles by examining the use of humor in events such as speeches, election campaign rallies, press briefings and televised news interviews. In this case study of a prominent United States Senator (the late Senator Edward Kennedy), twenty publically available video recordings from the C-SPAN online archives are analyzed using a conversation analytic approach. Two main types of humor were found in these data, self-deprecatory humor and humor that criticizes others. Three main functions of humor were identified (subtle self-promotion, managing challenging political and interactional situations, and creating solidarity with an audience). The results of this study contribute to our understanding of how humor can play a role in doing the work of a Senator.


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